The secret to a great sounding master is a well thought out mix. In this LANDR blog mini-series we’ll outline a few tips that can help you get prepared for mastering.
Pt. 1 Compression and Limiting
Mastering is the art of refining and polishing mixes by:
- Tweaking the equalization of frequencies
- Adding compression
- Widening the stereo image
- Creating consistency between multiple songs
First up, let’s think about compression and headroom in the mix:
Track compression is a great tool to even out individual instrumental and vocal performances. Mixing into a buss compressor at the end of the signal flow can sound great and add a few db output to the final bounce, but creates a slippery slope in terms of robbing valuable headroom from the mastering process.
Mastering involves complex and nuanced compressing and limiting of different frequency bands. The less headroom the final mix has, the more difficult it is for mastering compression and limiting to be used effectively. If you do like to mix into a stereo buss compressor, do so conservatively. Try a very low ratio of 2:1 as a starting point, with no more than a few db of gain reduction and make up gain as a starting point.